Black sheep inn is a non-consumptive private ecotourism enterprise that is operated by the community. The owners; Andres and Michelle, do property maintenance and community work. The inn is a sustainable nature based enterprise since its objectives are geared towards satisfying the present generation needs without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs. It is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and a socially just enterprise. Among the factors considered when developing it to sustainable levels includes:
It is done on many different levels.
- Biodiversity conservation: it is achieved through use of private reserves, native tree reforestation and supporting of an established Ecuadorian Reserve area. Since the pristine protected areas are very captivating, the tourism within the area is regulated to ensure non- consumptive use of the resource and to minimize the adverse tourism impacts. They have come up with steps for work within the Iliniza Ecological Reserve whose 70% of its cloud forest has been destroyed from the year 1995. Priorities for this conservation program will be community education and economic alternatives. surveys and research projects will be done before conservation efforts can be effective
- Energy conservation .The inn uses eco-friendly sources of energy. These includes wind and solar energy. They installed a solar water pump. Two 85-watt solar panels directly powering a ShurFlo submersible pump with no batteries. When it is sunny the pump pushes pond water over 200-feet up the hill to a storage tank for irrigating their organic gardens. They monitored electrical use since 2003, and currently, they have lowered electrical use from an average of 12.5 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day to about 11 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day. This was through ensuring that all light bulbs on the property were compact fluorescent, light switches were labelled advising guests to conserve energy. On average there are 20 people (including guests) living at the Black Sheep Inn fulltime conserving the energy further. Moreover, all cooking and heating of water for showers is done with propane. There are plans to add solar hot water heaters and bio-gas digesters to offset propane consumption.
- Water conservation. They have 4 water sources: the town system which they help to maintain, a back-up reserve from a small spring, a pond for irrigation and rainwater that is collected in small tanks and cisterns from several roofs. On average they use 2000 litres of water daily for the entire hotel; this includes approximately 21 people on the property fulltime, about 95 litres per person per day. They have also built ponds to help increase biodiversity and to retain water on the property.
It is an essential component of eco-tourism which has been considered by the Black sheep inn in achieving their sustainability. Both the people and their culture are the beneficiaries of the enterprise. The owners of the Inn have lived in Chuguchilan since 1993. A competent local staff of 9 full-time workers run the Black Sheep Inn. They have retained some of their employees since the Inn was opened. Among the locals depending on the enterprise includes Local drivers, local guides, horse providers and the bike rental shops. They have also touched the community development in terms of:
- Education: The Inn donated computers, phone lines and a copy machine to the local school, health clinic, and police station. With the help of a generous donation, they have subsidized school textbooks and paid teachers’ salaries since 2002. More also, three local students have received scholarships for continuing education. The enterprise spearheaded a project that established a local Public Library and Computer Learning Centre stocked with over 1000 Spanish language books and 8 computers.
- Tourism and local economy: Community members have been encouraged to participate in the growing local tourism industry by opening hostels and restaurants. Black sheep Inn provided an interest-free loan to her neighbour enabling him to start a horseback riding business. They have organized a tourist transportation cooperative with local vehicle owners. Native Guides take tourists hiking. Currently they have a musical instrument lending library to help bring traditional Andean Folkloric Music back into the area.
- Community recycling centre: Andres, a co-owner of the black sheep in initiated a community recycling centre by working cooperatively with public officials to purchase a small property to use as a separation facility, tree nursery and mini landfill. Trash used are swept weekly in the canyon in front of the local school. The trash is separated into cardboard, hard plastic, soft plastic, paper, metal and organic. Recyclables are sold and profits go directly to the people who sort the waste. Organic waste are composted and used to fertilize a public central park in the village.
The economic sustainability has been enabled by the recycling and reusing culture in the enterprise’s activities. They reuse paper, cardboard, glass bottles, large plastic containers, kitchen scraps, water and human waste onsite.. Efficient ecological management practices at Black sheep include recycling of water and energy conservation, growing of their own vegetables and food ,ecological waste systems such as composting, and gray water systems, and practice of allowing the guest to decide whether to change linens or towels. These simple efforts make a huge difference in the long-term impact of tourism and economy. Change at black sheep is inevitable, the revenue generated from tourism activities is used in conservation ,paying of labourers and also supporting the community amenities.
To sum up, Black sheep inn is operated by various stake holders who together are aiming at at achieving the sustainable development goals. The local community directly participate in recycling of waste, they participate in reserves’ re-afforestation and more also in ensuring tourist have a wide range of eco products .The owners of the Inn have set a carrying capacity of 21 tourists per night. This minimizes the adverse impact of tourism. Protected reserves by their government is another pillar to a sustainable eco-tourism enterprise.To add, the tourists themselves forms an essential stake holder.The revenue generated from them is used for conservation and future development of the conserved ares.